15 April 2011

Small Town Blues

I have better pictures, taken in better light, of prettier motifs. But this one
reflects how I currently feel about this place. Crooked, bleak and ugly. 
No leaves. A passing car. Out of focus. Remnants of 60s architectural 
catastrophes mixed with once-grand buildings. 
I was born and raised in a small town, but it's been a while since I've been a small town girl. I've since gotten used to the comforts of a larger city - everything from coffee shops, cultural activities, public transportation and shopping; to the fact that you can go outdoors without having to expect to know everyone you meet - are perks of living in a city. Especially Tokyo spoiled me. The clean, efficient, exciting, huge-yet-local, multi-leveled, never-closed, mega-city has everything. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Tokyo is probably - objectively speaking - the greatest city I have ever visited, and I'd be willing to claim it's also one of the greatest cities on this planet.

Thus coming back to my dozy hometown was a cultural shock in reverse.

Ugly tree, blocking an ugly view. 
Everything is too familiar. Everyone is too familiar. The few people I don't know, annoy me, in the same silly way it bothers me that I do know everyone else. It's too tight, too small, too close. I feel claustrophobic. Even the really good things about a small town - this small town - make me cringe. Local patriotism, enthusiasm, idealism, community spirit - I want nothing of it. Sitting in the audience for a local cultural event I feel a latent touch of Tourette arise in me. I have an urge to shout profanities at my fellow citizens, for being there, for talking giddily, for having the indecency to drink cheap wine and enjoy it when there is a whole world out there that is more, more, incredibly more. But I don't do it. Because I don't have Tourette syndrome; only a bad day.

Bridge. Connecting bleak with ugly since 1949. 
Ironically, the shock of finding myself in a small town has triggered a mild form of social angst. I don't want to meet these people. They are people I know. But they are strangers. I don't know them well - with the exception of a few family members - almost everyone I know know have left this place. Those that remain are more or less distant acquaintances, or they have become so after years of me growing out of this town, and them growing into it. People my age that stayed behind - I try not to look down on them, but I do. And I loathe myself for doing so. When I'm away I can control it; I don't think of them, of the town. But when I spend time here I remember. I'm glad it isn't me. Sad that I feel that way. And scared to realize that now - temporarily, I tell myself - it is me. I'm one of them. Even if it's only for a short period of time.

As cultural shocks are wont to do, it will wear off. I will remember why I survived - and for the most part liked - living here for 18 years. I will move on: the second I land a job I'm off. I will go back to view my hometown with ironic distance; a fondness born out of years of having had to deal with benefits and disadvantages of small town life, and then years escaping it. I've become a city girl.

This is a rather transparent attempt of adding the compulsory "positive" at the end of an otherwise negative post. 

1 comment:

ViolaNut said...

*hugs* Well, here's a positive for you - package is in the mail! :-)